US General prefers long-term military presence in Kurdistan

81416_Local_citizens_wave_Kurdish_and_American_flags_during_the_Kurdish_regional_government_new_years_celebration_in_Dahuk_in_2008.jpg

Kurds celebrating Newroz festivals in Duhok province, of Iraqi Kurdistan, waving Kurdish and American flags. File photo

ARA News

US Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend on Tuesday said that he prefers a long term American military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“As far as a longer-term presence, I won’t try to parse out Iraqi Kurdistan. It is my personal belief that we walked away from Iraq a few years ago and we’ve already seen that movie,” he told reporters.

The top US ground forces general said the relationship between the US army and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and also relationship with the Iraqi army has changed since the war against ISIS.

“I think it has changed the relationship. Well, in fact, from 2011 to 2014, there was basically no relationship between the Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga for that matter; the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the U.S. military — there was little or no connection there to those forces,” he said.

He further said that it’s better for the US military to stay in Iraq and Kurdistan.

“So I would propose that we try to find a different solution. And I would propose — my recommendation will be that we should stay here and try to continue to work with the Iraqi security forces and the government of Iraq. And I believe there’s an appetite to do that in the broader coalition,” general Townsend said.

“So, you know, I’ll make that recommendation at some point to our chain of command here, what we will do after ISIS. But my personal view is that we should stay in Iraq,” he concluded.

The Kurds, unlike most of Arab parties in Iraq, were completely against a US military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

The Kurds see a Western troop presence as a guarantee for stability and hope that the new Trump administration will give them independence.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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